Speculation Abounds Concerning Potential New Milwaukee Arena


High-level supporters and skeptics of a new basketball arena being talked about for Milwaukee tried to score points at a forum yesterday.

The Bradley Center is only about 25 years old, but the business groups and others getting behind the concept of a new playground for the Milwaukee Bucks say the center is not set up with enough ways to draw money from people’s wallets.

A new arena might cost at least $400 million. One of the biggest backers is Tim Sheehy of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce: “I think this is about how we get this done, not if we get it done. Because I think this is a statement Milwaukee should make as it moves forward.”

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Attorney Cory Nettles was a state commerce secretary under Democratic Governor Jim Doyle. Nettles backs a new arena, but says the funding mechanism should also pay for other community improvements.

“I think our community all across is looking for a big, bold audacious vision that we can rally around. I – and I think a lot of other people – are frustrated at the lack of that vision.”

But Smith College sports economist Andrew Zimbalist is urging caution. He says a lot of community dollars invested in pro sports leak away, including salaries to basketball players who live elsewhere.

“If 50 percent of the revenue that gets spent at a basketball arena goes to the players, and they’re spending the lion’s share of their income in other cities, then that’s the leakage.”

A business task force in Milwaukee will start taking a closer look at how to pay for a new arena. Milwaukee Bucks owner and former Senator Herb Kohl has said he will make a substantial investment in a new building, but wants a community discussion to play out first.

Hats off to members like you! WPR Bucket Hat $20/month. Give Now.